May 27 2017 11:05am

Ann Marie Walker Excerpt: Black Tie Optional

Ann Marie Walker

Black Tie Optional by Ann Marie Walker

Everything about billionaire Coleman Grant III oozes power and sex. And not the perfunctory kind either, but the sheet clawing, heart stopping, gasping for air after you’ve screamed so loud you can’t breathe kind. From his dark wavy hair that stands in an artfully rumpled mess, to the blue eyes that sear your skin, to his full, sensual lips - on the surface he’s pure perfection.

Too bad he's an asshole. An arrogant, uptight corporate raider hell bent on destroying the environment one species at a time.

Everything about Olivia Ramsey screams hippie humanitarian. From her blond hair tied in a sloppy bun, to her faded jeans with the Bonnaroo patch sewn on the thigh, to her combat boots still splattered with mud from the previous day’s site visit.

So it makes perfect sense that they would get married. In Vegas. Stone-cold sober.

Cole needs a wife. Olivia needs to save an endangered species. But what starts as a marriage of convenience soon turns into a battle of wills and sexual tension. Love is a game, and Olivia and Cole are ready to win.

Get a sneak peek at Ann Marie Walker's Black Tie Optional (available May 30, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Cole offered his arm, and Olivia wrapped her hand around his bicep. Even through his suit coat, she could feel the tension in his muscles. When they reached the center of the cleared floor, he pulled her into his arms. Olivia wanted to keep a respectable distance between them, but seeing as how they were supposed to be happy newlyweds, she forced herself to step closer as the orchestra began to play.

After a few awkward moments, other couples joined them on the dance floor, and the low hum of conversation once again filled the room.

“Have you been enjoying your evening?” Cole asked.

“I have,” Olivia said. “Despite first impressions to the contrary, Conor is actually quite a gentleman.” After a beat, she added, “Unlike some people.”

Cole reared back to look at her. “What have I done to offend you this time?”

“Nothing. That’s the problem, you’ve done absolutely nothing.” Didn’t show her around, didn’t get her another drink. Hell, he didn’t even speak to her. Just threw some cash on the table and was on his merry way.

“For your information, I was attempting to spare you by leaving you behind. Believe me, I would’ve much rather gambled the night away with Conor than spent one more minute talking to anyone in this room. Besides, the less interaction you have with people in my grandmother’s world the better. Less margin for error.”

“You mean less chance for me to fuck up?”

“Semantics,” he said with a smirk, echoing a smart-ass answer she’d once given him.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

            “You do look lovely tonight,” Cole said in an unexpected change of direction. For a moment, Olivia wondered what his game was, but then he leaned in closer, his breath hot in her ear. “If I didn’t hate you, I might actually want to fuck you.”

Olivia rolled her eyes, knowing full well he couldn’t see her face. “Might? Seems you have. More than once.”

“Memorable for you, were they?”

“Only in so far as both came with massive regret. Some people would start taking that personally.”

Cole pulled back to meet her gaze again, but this time when he spoke his voice was low and rough. “And how about your many orgasms, should I take those personally as well?”

Smug bastard. Olivia broke their eye contact, looking over his shoulder instead. She watched the other couples sway and spin as they moved across the dance floor. Then a gap formed and in the distance she spotted Meredith Grant standing beneath a palm tree, sipping a glass of champagne. A gray-haired gentleman approached, but she waved him off. Seemed she had no time for pleasant distractions, not when there was a hostile takeover to attend to.

“Your grandmother’s watching us.”

“Hmm, then we better give her a good show.” All at once Cole grabbed her around the waist, pulling her body flush against his. The air rushed out of Olivia’s lungs, and she gripped his biceps to steady herself as he twirled them around the dance floor. Her head was still spinning when they came to a stop, but there was no time to recover. Cole bent her back over his arm, and to the delight of the watching crowd, dipped her low. She expected a simple, controlled kiss, just enough to show his grandmother they were truly lovers. What she got instead was raw heat and an undeniable passion.

Cole sealed his mouth over hers, claiming her in a possessive kiss. His fingers slid into her hair, holding her head in place as he thrust his tongue between her lips. And despite their games, she kissed him back, meeting each lush stroke with one of her own as she grew drunk on his intoxicating taste. The heat between them rose and her pulse raced until she could barely hear the cheers and cat calls over the sound of her own heartbeat pounding in her ears.

She was breathless when he finally set her on her feet. More than that, all thoughts of evil grandmothers and prying eyes had left her.

Cole stared at her intently. His blue eyes had grown dark. “You know,” he said, “just because we don’t like each other doesn’t mean we can’t be . . .”

“Friends with benefits?”

“So you’ve given this some thought?”

“More like enemies with benefits,” she said, “But yeah, same idea.”

“And?” Cole’s gaze dropped to her mouth and she felt his entire body stiffen.

The atmosphere between them crackled with anticipation as his unanswered question hung in the air. Olivia’s tongue darted out to wet her lips. “It’s not without merit.”

An approving growl vibrated deep within his chest. “I’ll tell Jonathan to bring the car around.”

“But I haven’t met your grandmother yet. Won’t she be pissed if we leave without an introduction?”

“Merely a formality at this point, and one that I can assure you isn’t high on her list. She was more interested in introducing you to the rest of the room.”


His hand flexed against her back, pulling her body flush against his until she felt the prod of his erection.


“At the moment, a chat with my grandmother is the last thing on my mind.” The details of the night they’d spent together in Las Vegas might have been a bit fuzzy, but the look on Cole’s face brought back a memory so clear it made her knees go weak. He wanted her, now just as he had then. It didn’t matter that they had little in common or that they spent more time sparring than talking, because in moments like these frustration and anger gave way to a different kind of passion, one guided by only instinct and desire.

Copyright © 2017 by Ann Marie Walker.
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Ann Marie Walker writes steamy books about sexy boys. She’s a fan of fancy cocktails, anything chocolate, and 80s rom-coms. Her super power is connecting any situation to an episode of Friends and she thinks all coffee cups should be the size of a bowl. If it’s December she can be found watching Love Actually but the rest of the year you can find her on Twitter, where she would be happy to talk to you about alpha males, lemon drop martinis or supermodel David Gandy. Ann Marie attended the University of Notre Dame and currently lives in Chicago.

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